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Article Archive for October 2012

CD of the Week – Vivaldi’s Four Seasons Recomposed

October 31, 2012
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You may wonder if Vivaldi’s overexposed Four Seasons needs a new recording, but Max Richter’s inspired recomposition gives the hoary old favorite a shot in the arm

‘The Secret Fortresses of Her Mind’: Winifred Holtby, The Land of Green Ginger

October 30, 2012
‘The Secret Fortresses of Her Mind’: Winifred Holtby, The Land of Green Ginger

Once again, I’ve finished a book from my Somerville cluster feeling, paradoxically, both engaged and adrift: it’s as if these novels have their own idiolect, their own set of terms and meanings and tropes that are related to the ones I know from my other reading, or from the general ideas I’ve picked up from [...]

This Week In My Classes: More Margaret Kennedy

October 29, 2012
This Week In My Classes: More Margaret Kennedy

We had another session on The Constant Nymph today, and I think it’s safe to say we are getting more comfortable with it–which is not to say we have worked out our interpretations of it, but that we have a sharpening sense of what is interesting about it, of what critical conversation to have about it. [...]

Six for the Storm!

October 29, 2012
Six for the Storm!

Six sure-fire books to help you weather the storm!

Guest Movie Review: Cloud Atlas

October 28, 2012
banner

Time-bending? Gender-bending? Race-bending? “Cloud Atlas” drifts onto Mr. Anderson’s radar.

Book Review: Among the Islands

October 28, 2012
among the islands – oct 2012

At the beginning of his career, the great scientist-explorer Tim Flannery literally sailed to the ends of the earth and back – here he sits down to tell some of those stories

This Week In My Classes: Meetings, Deadlines, Poems, Mysteries, and Nymphs

October 27, 2012
This Week In My Classes: Meetings, Deadlines, Poems, Mysteries, and Nymphs

This past week was very busy, which is why I didn’t manage to post this during the week. For one thing, one of the committees that I’m on had to do a series of consultations, which involves both the actual meeting times and a fair amount of correspondence and negotiation getting things set up. Another committee [...]

Penguins on Parade: Charles Lamb!

October 27, 2012
Penguins on Parade: Charles Lamb!

Some Penguin Classics almost seem like they’ve been around forever, and yet a prime such example, the Selected Prose of Charles Lamb, only came into existence in 1985, in a pretty trade paperback with Hazlitt’s famous portrait of the young Lamb on its cover. The edition is edited by Adam Phillips, whose Introduction cites Lamb’s [...]

Book Review: London Eye

October 27, 2012
london eye

In the opening volume of the “Toxic City” series, London is cut off from the rest of the world and filling up with super-powered mutants – two things which have been true on YouTube for some time now.

Jacques Barzun

October 26, 2012
barzun

Jacques Barzun (1907 – 2012)

Book Review: The Lion Sleeps Tonight

October 25, 2012
the lion sleeps tonight – oct 2012

The celebrated South African author of “My Traitor’s Heart” publishes a collection of his rabble-rousing, fortifying New Journalism pieces

CD of the Week – Carl Nielsen

October 24, 2012
CD of the Week – Carl Nielsen

New for classical music lovers is an invigorating recording of the symphonies of Danish composer Carl Nielsen, as well as a trio of dazzling piano recitals. As always, Norman Lebrecht reviews.

Words v.s. Pictures in the Penny Press!

October 23, 2012
Words v.s. Pictures in the Penny Press!

The great Lev Grossman has a typically smart and interesting piece in last week’s Time (the issue with the hideous cover advertising 60 different stories inside), on a subject of perennial fascination: books translated into movies. I’ve long been on record with the audacious opinion that virtually every movie version ever filmed is better than [...]

Comics: The Shadow – Blood & Judgment

October 23, 2012
the shadow – blood and judgment

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows! With some ample assistance from comics legend Howard Chaykin

Book Review: Spillover

October 22, 2012
Book Review: Spillover

The burgeoning human population is encountering new and strange pathogens every day – how long until one of them becomes the next HIV … or Black Death?

Guest Movie Review: Alex Cross

October 22, 2012
tyler_perry2012-alex-cross-wide

The best-selling James Patterson novel, featuring his most popular recurring character, gets a big-screen adaptation

Six for a Start!

October 21, 2012
Six for a Start!

The age-old publishing maxim (it’s actually a maxim for everything, but we’ll stay on our home ground), “Stick With What Works,” has few starker applications than the books-in-series that have long afflicted the sci-fi/fantasy genre. Long after whole forests were pulped to make endless “Gor” and “Lensman” books possible (although nothing could make them readable), [...]

South Riding: They like it! They really, really like it!

October 21, 2012
South Riding: They like it! They really, really like it!

I’ve just finished rereading South Riding, ready for our final discussion of the novel in the Somerville seminar tomorrow. I was caught up in it both intellectually and emotionally, more than I was when I first read it last spring. Rereading made the subtleties of the novel’s construction more apparent: the sophisticated way Holtby weaves together [...]

Book Review: Through the Eye of a Needle

October 21, 2012
through the eye of a needle – oct 2012

The new book by the great Peter Brown examines a deep conflict: Christ specifically orders Christians to be poor, but Christians would rather not be, thanks just the same.

Rating the Blighters in the Penny Press!

October 20, 2012
Rating the Blighters in the Penny Press!

As we’ve so often noted about the Penny Press, the Lord giveth, and the Lord talketh out His ass. Such was certainly the case with last week’s TLS, in which the ‘debit’ column had an item that nearly made me spit up my Tatws Pum Munud in outrage. The offending piece was by Jonathan Benthall, [...]

Book Review: The Founders and Finance

October 20, 2012
founders and finance

The newly-born United States was a disorganized and largely bucolic hodge-podge until three clear-eyed financiers – all of them immigrants – worked to create a new and more monetized system

Interview: Smashed Star Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Co-Writer-Director James Ponsoldt

October 19, 2012
Interview: Smashed Star Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Co-Writer-Director James Ponsoldt

A film about a young couple dealing with how much they drink, Smashed defies most of the narrative and emotional conventions you might expect when you hear “alcoholism movie.” Smashed was written by Susan Burke and James Ponsoldt, directed by Ponsoldt, and stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World) and Aaron Paul (Breaking [...]

Book Review: Joseph Anton

October 18, 2012
joseph anton

The great novelist tells the beguiling story of the man he became in order to escape a death sentence

CD of the Week – Anu Komsi

October 17, 2012
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Norman Lebrecht reviews a five-star recording from the extraordinary Finnish soprano Anu Komsi

Guest Movie Review: Argo

October 16, 2012
6Affleck implemented the worst moustaches for this film

Director Ben Affleck’s latest, “Argo,” is a real Hollywood movie about a fake Hollywood movie way back in the 1970s

This Week In My Classes: Love Poems and Social Novels

October 15, 2012
This Week In My Classes: Love Poems and Social Novels

In English 1000, we’ve started our first poetry unit. We’ll be doing more poetry after Christmas, organized into what I hope will be provocative thematic clusters, but for now we’re just working through the basics of reading and analyzing poetry — meter and scansion, figurative language, poetic forms and modes. We haven’t really talked much [...]

ABC News: Nathan O. Marsh’s Alphabet Apocrypha

October 15, 2012
ABC News: Nathan O. Marsh’s Alphabet Apocrypha

Attention abecedarians: absolutely aching to access awesome alphabetic art? Attendez: Alphabet Apocrypha. Formerly titled Alphabet Horror Vacui, Nathan O. Marsh’s illustrated alphabetic cabinet of curiosities is a dark and wonderful marvel. His comic, rendered in crowquill pen and ink and watercolor, harkens back to naturalist engravings of yore, but Marsh’s alliterative inventions bounce back and [...]

Lucky Jim!

October 15, 2012
Lucky Jim!

Our book today is Kingsley Amis’ 1954 debut novel Lucky Jim, the recent New York Review of Books re-issue of which prompted a literary friend of mine to lament, “Do we really need this? Am I missing something, or is this thing just a boring, overpraised academia-novel that was never that good to begin with?” This [...]

Book Review: The Ice Castle

October 14, 2012
the ice castle

To find their missing cousin, young heroes Daphne and Ivan must return to the magical land of Lexicon and confront yet more of its brain-teasing adventures.

The Last Time I Saw … Venice!

October 14, 2012
The Last Time I Saw … Venice!

Our book today is 2005′s The Last Time I Saw Venice, by the indomitable Australian romance novelist Vivienne Wallington, a former librarian who wrote some twenty romances for Mills & Boon under the pen-name of Elizabeth Duke and then did a stint writing Silhouette romances for Harlequin under her own name, this one being (so [...]

Comics: Essential Thor Volume 6

October 12, 2012
thor v absorbing man

Marvel’s resident thunder god-superhero Thor goes through some epic adventures in the latest volume of “Essential” reprints.

A Wanderer in … Venice!

October 12, 2012
A Wanderer in … Venice!

Our book today is A Wanderer in Venice by our old friend E. V. Lucas, written in the last halcyon interval the world has ever seen and published just as that interval was ending, in November of 1914. Lucas was an indefatigable writer (as shocking as it will seem to our modern ethics, he even [...]

This Week in My Classes: Am I Making Excuses for Gaudy Night?

October 11, 2012
This Week in My  Classes: Am I Making Excuses for Gaudy Night?

I’ve confessed here before that I can have trouble staying “objective and professorial” during discussions of Gaudy Night because I love the novel so much.  I have loved it pretty much since the first time I read it, which is a long time ago: my personal copy is from a 1978 edition, and though I can’t see any [...]

Book Review: Listening In

October 11, 2012
listening in

A new book authorized by the Kennedy Library provides some slices of living history: tapes and transcripts of President John F. Kennedy at work in the White House.

CD of the Week – Miklós Rózsa

October 10, 2012
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Hungarian Miklós Rózsa was one of the century’s greatest composers for film, but he also wrote the fine concertos given new life on this recording

Pocket Review: The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

October 9, 2012
Pocket Review: The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

The Dog Stars Peter Heller Knopf, 2012 Everybody’s got that secret genre that does it for them, am I right? Pirate tales, British cozies, sparkly vampires, or some combination of all of the above—hell, that would do it for anyone, come to think of it. Even the most diehard literary snob has some embarrassingly tangible [...]

Book Review: Commentaries on Plato

October 9, 2012
ficino 2

Marsilio Ficino’s enormous commentary on the Parmenides of Plato receives a fantastic scholarly edition from – who else? – Harvard’s I Tatti Renaissance Library

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

October 8, 2012
Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

It’s Canadian Thanksgiving today. We cooked and ate our traditional dinner yesterday, which means today we can relax, catch up on some work, and enjoy leftovers for dinner. Despite a threatening forecast, it’s a bright sunny day so far; yesterday was gorgeous too. The foliage isn’t as bright as it sometimes is at this time [...]

Comics: Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut

October 8, 2012
nothing can

Vultures, black cats, and a gigantic, unbeatable foe: it’s a week in the life of your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man!

Guest Movie Review: Frankenweenie

October 8, 2012
6Boy and his dog, take two

Tim Burton’s new movie has a surprising amount of heart and soul

Open Letters Monthly, October 2012

October 7, 2012
Open Letters Monthly, October 2012

OK, it’s really fall now. The leaves are spinning around in the chilly breeze, the days are contracting, the stores are filling up with Christmas decorations. And the October issue of Open Letters Monthly is out—the perfect accompaniment to a little mulled cider and that bag of candy corn you bought “to get a jump [...]

The World … of Venice!

October 7, 2012
The World … of Venice!

Our book today is the oft-revised The World of Venice, originally written by the great British historian and travel-writer James Morris, then revised by him, then substantially re-written when he become Jan Morris, and then revised by her as well – it’s as touched-up as a water-damaged Tiepolo, as fluid and gorgeous a thing as [...]

Book Review: The Iliad

October 6, 2012
mccrorie iliad – oct 2012

Homer’s Iliad gets a new and unconventional translation into sometimes very familiar language

A Year in the Life of a New Romance Reader

October 6, 2012
A Year in the Life of a New Romance Reader

While I was sick last weekend I downloaded a few light reads from the library to help cheer me up and pass the time. All of them were romance novels — which (as I emerged from my Neo-Citran haze) struck me as noteworthy and led me to the realization that it has been about a [...]

Wild Nights!

October 5, 2012
Wild Nights!

Our book today is Wild Nights, the winning little work of urban natural history Anne Matthews wrote in 2001, a smart, informed book that follows in the natural history footsteps of such works as Cathy Johnson’s The Nocturnal Naturalist (and act as precursors to great books like Marie Winn’s Central Park in the Dark) by [...]

One Mykonos!

October 5, 2012
One Mykonos!

A sudsy, salty, saucy Mediterranean memoir comes with a light spray of classical allusions …

Now in Paperback: The Paperboy

October 4, 2012
zac’s thespianism

Pete Dexter’s lean, harrowing novel of murder and ambition is coming to the big screen with a full complement of movie stars – and a new paperback edition of the book is a happy by-product.

The Ring and the Book!

October 3, 2012
The Ring and the Book!

In 1868, Robert Browning completed a long poem about an old murder case …

CD of the Week – Glenn Gould: The Schwarzkopf Tapes

October 3, 2012
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The deeply unlikely pairing of pianist Glenn Gould and soprano Elisabeth Schwarzkopf was deemed a flop when it took place in 1966–now some of the never-before-published recordings have come out, and they’re well worth the wait.

A Military History of the Western World!

October 2, 2012
A Military History of the Western World!

A magnificent three-volume history of warfare in the West.

This Week and Last Week … But (I hope) Not Next Week!

October 2, 2012
This Week and Last Week … But (I hope) Not Next Week!

It has been quiet over here, I know. That’s a symptom, as usual, of things not being quiet elsewhere and so my not having enough time and energy to spare for blogging. For the past couple of weeks it seems we haven’t had two straight days in which at least one member of my family hasn’t [...]

Guest Movie Review: The Master

October 2, 2012
6He must be sad about that shirt

Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest film, featuring a thinly-veiled take on L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology

The Royal Library of the Netherlands’ Word Problem

October 1, 2012
The Royal Library of the Netherlands’ Word Problem

When it comes to digitizing older and orphan works, most of the copyright controversies I see cropping up have more to do with intellectual property issues than actual conflict. Which is about what you’d expect—any real litigation is going to be hammered out in court rather than in the public debate arena. But what happens [...]

A Man Apart

October 1, 2012
A Man Apart

Mitt Romney’s diatribe at a Boca Raton fundraiser may have torpedoed his candidacy. Was he just pandering, or did he actually mean all of those things he said?

Dignity, Conviction, and Mrs. Stollman’s Checkbook

October 1, 2012
Dignity, Conviction, and Mrs. Stollman’s Checkbook

ESP-Disk’, the cult record label from Bernard Stollman, was known for two things: extraordinary, eclectic recordings and horrendous business practices. A new oral history sheds light on the glorious mess.

Songs of Experience

October 1, 2012
AMadrid

Sufi mystics, barbaric yawps, and the comedy of the sexes are what’s inside Anthony Madrid’s new collection of ghazals. What does our poetry editor make of this puzzling Persian pattern?

A Hope in the Undead

October 1, 2012
WD4 (1)

The Walking Dead, the hit TV series adapted from the zombie-apocalypse comics, offers fans a gripping and subversive take on the accidents of survival.

As Dark Locks In: Nightfall

October 1, 2012
As Dark Locks In: <em>Nightfall</em>

CBC’s landmark scare series is available online at last. Where did such a strange series come from and where has it been all this time?

Talking about Hats, and Maybe Goats

October 1, 2012
Talking about Hats, and Maybe Goats

Emily Pettit turns nonsense into horse sense, or goat sense, in her new collection Goat in the Snow

Nine Ways of Looking at D’Annunzio

October 1, 2012
Nine Ways of Looking at D’Annunzio

Madman, lothario, despot, drug fiend, friend and enemy of Mussolini – and immortal poet. Gabriele D’Annunzio was all of these things and many more in his whirlwind of a life.

The Passage

October 1, 2012
lines

a poem

Leviathan Grimoire

October 1, 2012
Leviathan <em>Grimoire</em>

Their brains – their digits – their eyes – their locomotion – their families – their staggeringly long reign over the planet Earth: it’s all here, and much, much more. The greatest dinosaur reference work just got even better.

Claiming the Future

October 1, 2012
Claiming the Future

Julio Cortázar and Gabriel Garcia Marquez brought Latin American fiction to the attention of the world. Now a young crop of writers are trying to move beyond magical realism–a new anthology charts the diverse approaches.

American Aristocracy: Gods Of Copley Square – Centerpiece 2

October 1, 2012
American Aristocracy: Gods Of Copley Square – Centerpiece 2

Henry Adams on the road to Chartres, Phillips Brooks on the Madonna of the prairie, and John La Farge on why he worried Trinity Church had “no heart” — The Gods of Copley Square continues

Change-gamer

October 1, 2012
TPM2012

Election-weary Americans might wonder why anybody in their right minds would elect to play a video-game presidential contest – but the process can be oddly enlightening.

It’s a Mystery: “Nobody escaped the desire for vengeance. Nobody.”

October 1, 2012
It’s a Mystery: “Nobody escaped the desire for vengeance. Nobody.”

The seventeenth Lee Child is vintage Jack Reacher and the eighth Louise Penny is, as always, compelling and charismatic

From the Archives: Peer Review: Paul Auster Perplexes

October 1, 2012
scriptorium

Five years ago Sam Sacks surveyed the reviews of Paul Auster’s Travels in the Scriptorium, which caused some confused tail-chasing amongst its critics.

October 2012 Issue

October 1, 2012
October 2012 Issue

from “Ink” by Katie Caron